From quarries to a golf course
One morning last spring, I was hiking near Qala quarries and walked east towards Qala Fort (Il-Fortin) or St Anthony's Fort. This fort, built in 1732, dominates Ras Il-Qala, a neglected natural gem.
While walking I noticed that the ground, weeds and everything else was covered with dust from the quarries - as were my clothes. The seabed was no better. A diver told me that it was covered with steel mixed in with concrete from building materials, tyres and other garbage which had been dumped there.
About 60 years ago this area was a showpiece of our islands, complete with neat rubble walls, fruit trees, vineyards, and fields with clover, wheat and other crops, Blue Rock Thrushes (our National Bird) singing everywhere, while salt was gathered near the seashore.
Farmers, like my grandfather, worked hard using primitive tools and donkeys. They surely would turn in their graves if they were to see what is happening to the area today. How could this be allowed to happen? Somebody must be accountable to clean it.
This area could be cleaned by closing down the quarries and replace them with a golf course, since the area has all that a super 18-hole golf course require - it has many uncultivated fields with good soil to grow grass and trees, it also has some water. The summer sun beats down less harshly than in the south of Gozo. It will also be a beautiful sight for many ships and cruise liners sailing close to shore.
But at present it is just a huge eyesore. The many species of birds that stop here during migration and Blue Rock Thrushes will start nesting again in this area, for all golfers and visitors alike to enjoy. Many golfers like to play early in the morning, others prefer shady afternoons. It is ideal for this. Golfers can be ferried quickly to this area from Malta.
A golf course requires a clubhouse, with all facilities, including an Olympic-size swimming pool and an à la carte restaurant. The clubhouse and Restaurant could be built close to the restored Qala Fort.
A golf course in this area will also mean the end of dumping trucks that service these quarries. These trucks use all major roads, completely polluting this village, passing by schools, Qala Square, spewing diesel fumes, dust, unbearable noise, and damaging people's property in the narrowest of roads.
The Occupational Health and Safety Authority has done nothing about this. The final blow for Qala and the whole of Gozo's eastern coast will come if the Qala Creek project is given the go-ahead. Then Qala's shoreline and Comino will be polluted. When the wind blows from the west, north west, and north, there will be no other beach to go to in Gozo.
Gozo needs more beaches and not a ticket to destroy them. The beaches at Ċawlija and Żewwieqa have already been destroyed with the expansion of Mġarr Harbour. There is no room for mistakes like Fort Chambray. Preventing pollution costs less than building new clinics and hospitals.